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THE BRIEFING FOR OCTOBER 21-31, 2010
By Joe Brancatelli

· Southwest Adds Flights to South Carolina in March
· Big Changes Come to Los Angeles International
· Why You May Be Changing Hotel Chains Next Year
· WestJet Finds An American Partner: American
· JetBlue Adds More Warm-Weather Destinations
· Amtrak Records Record Traffic and Revenue
· A Delayed Report Says Delays Cost $16.7 Billion


Southwest Adds Flights to Five Cities From South Carolina in March
Southwest Airlines signaled in the spring that it would add South Carolina to its route map, but details were only released this week. Beginning on March 13, Southwest will fly from both Charleston (CHS) and Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP). From Charleston, there'll be daily nonstops to Baltimore/Washington, Chicago/Midway, Nashville and Houston/Hobby. From GSP, there'll be nonstops to those four cities and a daily flight to Orlando, too. Midweek fares will start as low as $59 one-way for the first two months of service.

Nothing Will Ever Be the Same at LAX
If you fly to, through or from Los Angeles International, get ready for a raft of changes from several quarters.
   In one of its periodic fits of fealty to the idea of Los Angeles as one of its global focus cities, American Airlines will add or restore flights to nine domestic destinations from LAX. Effective April 5, American and its American Eagle commuter carrier will begin service to Albuquerque; Boise; El Paso; Houston/Intercontinental; Oklahoma City; Phoenix; Salt Lake City; Sacramento; and Tucson. Southwest Airlines is currently the dominant carrier on five of those routes. Alaska is the big player on LAX-Boise, United is currently the big bird on LAX-Oklahoma; and the other flights are to Delta (Salt Lake) or Continental (Houston) hubs.
   LAX is also getting an influx of international service. Fights to Tokyo/Haneda begin November 11 (on All Nippon Airways) and February 11 (Delta). Turkish Airways begins LAX-Istanbul service on March 11. Iberia resumes service to Madrid on April 20. And LAX-Shanghai flights begin April 5 (American) and May 20 (United).
   A major overhaul of concessions at Terminals 4,5,7 and 8 will take place in the second half of next year. There'll be more than a dozen new restaurants and airport branches of local hits such as Ford's Filling Station, Alan Jackson's Lemonade and Engine Co. No. 28. There'll also be a branch of Skewers from Masaharu Morimoto.
   Alaska Airlines is moving to Terminal 6, but it will temporarily operate from Terminals 2 and 3. There is a shuttle to connect the gates, but all check-in and baggage claim will be in Terminal 3, Alaska's current LAX home base.

Why You May Be Changing Hotel Chains Next Year
Hotel chains and corporate buyers are deep in negotiations over the 2011 nightly rates that business travelers will pay. And guess who still has the pricing hammer? With hotel occupancy weak and prices still far below their 2007 peaks, corporate buyers are looking for bargains. Hotel chains, hoping for an upswing, are pushing back hard. So hard, in fact, that some chains will let many long-term customers walk away. "There's a lot of ego involved in these negotiations," a corporate travel buyer explains. "I can get the price I want, but I often have to get the price from a different chain. Then I find out the chain I just left gave the deal I wanted to another buyer. They can't make concessions to me, but they'll do the same deal with another account if it is seen as 'winning new business.' It's silly, but that's how it is." So don't be surprised if your company tells you that you're changing hotel chains next year. It's all part of the price war between hotel chains and corporate buyers.

WestJet Finds An American Partner: American Airlines
American Airlines has a new partner north of the border: WestJet, the one-class Canadian discount carrier. WestJet was originally going to code-share with Southwest Airlines, but Southwest walked away in the spring when WestJet started talking to Delta Air Lines. Now it turns out that it'll be a WestJet-AA arrangement starting on November 9. American Airlines and its American Eagle commuter carrier will interline with WestJet at six Canadian airports, which means American flyers can transfer seamlessly to WestJet flights on a single ticket. The cities are Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. American says the deal will give it connecting service to 25 Canadian cities that it does not serve with its own aircraft. JetBlue Airways continues to ramp up service to warm-weather island destinations. Among its newly announced operations: daily flights between its New York/Kennedy hub and Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, (PLS) starting February 17; Saturday-only service between Boston and PLS beginning February 19; and daily nonstops from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Juan starting on May 19.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Third-quarter profits at all of the airlines stole the headlines this week, but Amtrak reported record revenue and ridership, too. For fiscal 2010, which ended on September 30, the rail service carried 28.7 million riders, up 5.7 percent over the year-earlier period. Revenue from ticket sales reached $1.7 billion. More than half of that total ($899 million) came from service in the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington. Traffic in the Northeast Corridor accounted for a third of Amtrak's total. Alaska Airlines has moved to Terminal B at Newark Airport. Take this number for what it's worth. A report submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration says airport and airline delays cost U.S. passengers $16.7 billion. The report was based on 2007 data. There was no data on how much the almost three-year lag in the FAA report cost flyers.

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ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.

THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.

This column is Copyright 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.